Toronto – July 21, 2014 – UFCW Canada is calling on the Canadian government to pressure the government of Bangladesh to comply with its legal obligations to ensure safe working conditions in the country’s garment factories.
Following the Rana Plaza disaster last year, in which 1,135 garment workers were killed and more than 2,500 were injured when their factory collapsed, UFCW Canada participated in a fact-finding mission in Bangladesh. A direct result of the mission was the Sustainability Compact – a comprehensive framework for action adopted by Bangladesh, the European Union, and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The agreement calls on the Bangladesh government to take legal and practical steps to ensure workplace safety and respect for labour rights in the world’s second-largest garment producing sector.
While the Sustainability Compact is binding on the government of Bangladesh, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety requires international garment producers to ensure their factories are safe for workers. Loblaw and Joe Fresh are among more than 150 companies that have signed the Accord – an agreement which makes producers responsible for enacting recommendations for mandatory health and safety inspections conducted by workers.
UFCW Canada has been a leader in the global movement to make sure another tragedy like Rana Plaza never happens again. UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema participated in the fact-finding mission to Bangladesh this past April and presented the investigation’s findings at the 27th Canadian Labour Congress Convention. Representing Canada’s most progressive union, National President Meinema is now asking members and supporters to send a letter to Canada's federal labour minister to encourage the Canadian government to pressure Bangladesh to abide by the Sustainability Compact.
“In a recent evaluation conducted by the International Trade Union Congress and UNI Global, it was found that the government of Bangladesh is falling far short of meeting its obligations under the Sustainability Compact,” says President Meinema, “By continuing to restrict the right to join a union and failing to adopt legislation which protects a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work, adequate health and safety measures remain elusive in Bangladesh’s garment factories.”